Alive and Kicking #32 – Pain and The Matrix, Plus – Who Are You Competing Against?

by on May 8, 2012

in Alive and Kicking


Alive and Kicking – Martial Arts Over 40


Tuesday 8 May 2012: Issue #32

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Published by Brett Kraiger. Your comments are always welcome.


Hi there!

Welcome to this week’s Alive and Kicking, the newsletter for martial artists over 40.

Firstly I apologize for the late release of this edition of Alive and Kicking. I was totally ready to write this yesterday, but when I took a quick look at my site I could see that there were a bunch of posts missing. Everything from the last week or so was gone. The problem was caused by me transferring my websites to a new hosting arrangement, and it seems that the person who did the transfer used an old backup by mistake.

I was cursing the new webhost for a while. That is, until I realized that it was me that had done the transfer!  🙂  Oops.  Serves me right for trying to do it myself instead of trusting it to the experts. I’m still finding some things wrong tonight but I think I have it all fixed now. Please do let me know if you see anything odd on the website, like missing pictures or broken links.


Pain. Again. This time with Diet. And “The Matrix”

I hope you enjoyed the first article in Craig’s series on  Pain and the Over-40 Martial Artist. If you didn’t get a chance to read it then you should go take a look.

In today’s installment, Craig looks more closely at the impact of your diet on pain and on your recovery from injury, and the wear and tear of daily living, and your martial art. When I read this article tonight it reminded me of something I saw on Twitter today saying that basically our bodies are always battling things going wrong, such as cancer, and if the body is properly fueled then it stands a much better chance of getting rid of all the problems. There is always damage going on, and as martial artists we probably cause ourselves a bit more damage than the average person does.

Healthy diet is essential for injury prevention and recovery for martial artists
by B*2 under CC BY-ND
A healthy diet is essential for martial artists


I mentioned in an earlier newsletter that I had been having trouble sticking to my diet recently. One of the things I have definitely noticed since I stopped being so careful with my diet is that I seem to be full of all my old aches and pains again. I really noticed this the other day when I was trying to get up off the floor while playing with the kids. It occurred to me that although I complain of muscle pain when I am fully into my gym and diet routines, it is just a muscle soreness from the exercise. But when I am not being “good” then I get all sorts of other problems cropping up. Nothing major, but it just seems that I feel my age a lot more when I’m not eating properly.

So take a look at Craig’s article on diet, pain and injury in the martial artist now… there’s a lot in there to learn from. Grab a cup of coffee before you read it – it’s quite long. I was planning on splitting it up into two articles, but it works best as one article so I left it as is.


The final thing I want to touch on today is the subject of “competition” in the dojo/dojang. Not in terms of tournaments, but in terms of how you think about your progress and your capabilities in your chosen martial art.

I remember a while back I had an 11 year old student testing for her black belt. In International Taekwon-Do in New Zealand our black belt gradings are rather big affairs, and the students go through a two-day test. The first day is entirely closed door, and only the students and the examiners are allowed in the room. The instructors (i.e. me!) are not allowed to see the students except for lunchtime and after the day is over.

Anyway I met up with my student at lunchtime, and as we were walking to my car I asked her how it was all going. She was really quiet, very unlike her, and just mumbled something. Then when I asked her what she had just said she burst into tears.  Her worry – that she wasn’t good enough to pass her test. It turns out that at the same grading there were three older teenagers, two of them girls, who were really very  good at Taekwon-Do. You know.. young kids, in their prime, fit and strong and fearless.

She was comparing herself to these older kids and didn’t think she was up to their standard. And she was right – these kids were way fitter, faster and stronger than where she was at, and everybody else in the room too.

Of course I had a chat with her and explained that she should not be comparing herself to these others. All she needed to do was get out on the floor and do her absolute best and she would be fine. I really tried to lift her spirits around a couple of things that she did do very well. I distinctly remember her self defence was just awesome.

(When I say that the instructors weren’t allowed to watch the grading on the first day… I probably should mention that of course we would always try to sneak a peek. Myself and another instructor were taking a sneaky look when this student of mine was on the floor doing her self defence. This other instructor was amazed at her strength and power and speed. Remember we are talking about an 11 year old girl here! She was actually at a level where I didn’t particularly enjoy that part of our training together because she was just so scary!)

Anyway… why am I blabbering on about an 11 year old martial artist to you, a 40+ martial artist? Well, I am blabbering on about it because as older martial artists, perhaps a bit less flexible now, perhaps a bit slower or less fit, we may find ourselves comparing ourselves to other younger fitter members in the class (or perhaps to a younger fitter version of yourself “back in the day!”).

But that’s totally the wrong way to think. There is only one person you should be comparing yourself to, and that is the person that you were at your last lesson, or a month ago.

It’s you that you are competing against, and nobody else.

I found a post on Pacific Wave Jiujitsu written by Lori O’Connell that discusses this same subject. Here’s an excerpt.

If you only focus on being better than other people, you’ll limit yourself one way or another. If there are many people around you that you perceive as being “better” than you, and you put your mental focus on this,  you’ll feel demoralized by a perceived lack in progress if that is your only measuring stick. If people stay “ahead” of you, you’ll never feel like you’re making progress, no matter how much better you get in reality.

On the other hand, if you have this same attitude and you get to a point where you’re “better” than everyone else around you, you’ll stop progressing because you’ll lack motivation to train because you’re already “at the top of your game.”

Head over to the post to read the rest of it (and actually to read Lori’s other posts too. She writes some great stuff.


OK – that’s it for this week. Make sure to check out the  second article in the series on pain here.

Remember, if you have anything you want to say, ask or contribute, you can drop me an email or leave your comments on Facebook. You can also comment directly on the website.

All the best!


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Quote of the Day


Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.
– Unknown

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